The Pentagon estimates that a sudden decline in U.S. service personnel flying overseas causes a $200 million to $250 million loss in revenue for the U.S. government each year.
In a briefing Thursday morning, Pentagon officials said fewer U.S. service members flying overseas is linked to a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and fewer U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the downturn is “slowly easing” from its peak in 2008.
The Pentagon reported that 1,258 service members declined in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period a year ago. From October through June, the Pentagon reimbursed only 77 percent of its military base and commercial transport costs from overseas commercial flights after the three-day stopover required to stay on a designated U.S. base.
An estimated 1.4 million military and civilian service members conducted 400,000 air sorties overseas during the peak in 2008.
Government statistics show a decline in the number of U.S. personnel completing their military service abroad, from 138,038 in 2000 to 70,488 this year.
Total worldwide military flights of all service members excluding special operations forces during the first half of this year, at 1.31 million, were down 7 percent from the same period a year ago.
All through 2015, Britain, Australia, South Korea, South Africa, Thailand, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Israel, Italy, Spain, Canada, Italy, Japan, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Greece, Norway, Ireland, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel have been the major centers of support for U.S. forces and operations abroad.
A small percentage of the visits by U.S. airmen and other military personnel in the first half of 2015 to allied bases have been to bases in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, France, Belgium, Belgium, Spain, Britain, Norway, Germany, Germany, Jordan, Germany, Greece, Norway, Italy, and Greece. U.S. Air Force officials are tracking projected increases in the number of U.S. troops and other airmen flying flights with allies in 2017 and beyond.
Budget and personnel reductions have also resulted in fewer airmen flying with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Budget and personnel reductions have also resulted in fewer airmen flying with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Other locations expected to see an increase in U.S. airmen flying are South Korea, Japan, and Turkey.
Last month, the Defense Department requested $5.8 billion to buy 21,035 commercial aircraft valued at more than $11 billion.
The list of foreign countries the Pentagon identified as “best bet” destinations for aircraft traffic includes the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Poland, Italy, Mexico, China, Morocco, Ukraine, Iceland, Japan, and Thailand.
There were nearly 9,500 air travelers on U.S. government air transports overseas in 2010, and there were about 88,000 aircraft movements, Pentagon officials reported Thursday. In the first half of this year, the number of travelers fell to about 9,000, while they were only 62,582 on aircraft, resulting in a decline of about 24 percent.
In the next five years, the Pentagon projects a decline in transportation needs at about 6 percent in military bases and the commercial fleet through fiscal 2017, and then slightly increasing through fiscal 2019.